Racing: High five from Maguire

Click to follow
Adrian Maguire rode five winners out of seven here yesterday to give himself and his stable the perfect launch-pad to next month's Cheltenham Festival, now just 16 days away. But as if to emphasise the two sides of jump racing's precariously spinning coin, his weighing-room colleague Richard Dunwoody was stretchered from the course after a crashing fall and taken to hospital with chest injuries.

Maguire scored in the first four races on Sanmartino, Viking Flagship, Land Afar and L'Opera and later added Pharanear for a 355-1 five-timer. But the bookmakers were saved from a Dettori-style payout when the Irishman missed out in the Racing Post Chase, in which he finished fourth on Call It A Day, and then was beaten on the 10-11 favourite Arctic Camper by a 50-1 shot in the last.

It was not the first five-timer of Maguire's career. He said: "I rode five winners at Plumpton a couple of years ago, and won six when I was point-to-pointing back home before I came to England. But it is marvellous to do it on a big day like this. We knew we had a strong team, but things don't always work out as you plan them."

Four of the five were trained by David Nicholson, the star turn being the marvellous old warrior Viking Flagship, twice winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham. Yesterday's Emblem Chase was the 22nd win of the 10-year-old's honourable career and the perfect warm-up for his bid to regain his two-mile title he lost to Klairon Davis last March, in the Champion Chase.

Viking Flagship thoroughly enjoyed himself as he disposed of Arctic Kinsman by three lengths in what was virtually a match after the second-fence fall of Martha's Son. Nicholson said: "He was a tiny bit rusty, and we can fine-tune from that. And, for a change, he's had an easy race, which he deserved, as he's had plenty of tough ones."

Maguire set the ball rolling on Sanmartino in the Dovecote Novices' Hurdle. Winner of an Ebor Handicap on the Flat, the five-year-old, the first jumper to carry Khaled Abdullah's colours, showed the right attitude as he recovered from a mistake at the penultimate flight to outbattle Mister RM by two lengths. He has a choice of three engagements at Cheltenham; the Champion Hurdle, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Royal SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle, but no decision will be made as to which will be his target until two weeks today.

The four-year-old L'Opera, making his hurdling debut in the Voice Newspaper Adonis Hurdle, is bound for the Triumph Hurdle and Rendlesham Hurdle winner Pharanear goes for the Stayers' Hurdle. But the Paul Webber-trained Land Afar, winner of the Pendil Novices' Chase, may sidestep Cheltenham for Aintree or Punchestown.

Maguire had the choice of Nicholson's three Racing Post Chase runners, and as one of his rejects, King Lucifer, ranged alongside the leader Mudahim on the turn into the straight it seemed Richard Johnson would be the beneficiary. The pair drew clear of the rest as they settled to a rare battle over the last two fences and were as one in the air over the final obstacle, but it was Mudahim who found that little bit extra to prevail by a neck.

The game 11-year-old, who joined Jenny Pitman's yard last autumn, is likely to take his chance in the Grand National, his trainer's speciality. And he could hardly have a better teacher at home, where he is led in his schooling by the retired Gold Cup winner and Aintree runner-up Garrison Savannah. Pitman said: "When he joined me he seemed to have lost his confidence, but following Garry over my fences has given it back."

Dunwoody's accident came when See More Business came down at the 11th fence. The Ulsterman knelt on the grass for some minutes before being loaded into an ambulance. Another casualty was last year's National runner- up Encore Un Peu who, making his seasonal debut, finished lame in fifth place.

At Haydock, in the Greenalls Grand National Trial, Suny Bay ran right away from his opposition to come home 19 lengths clear of the Aintree regular Into The Red. Suny Bay will take his chance in the Gold Cup en route to the National if the ground is soft. The Grey Monk jumped back into the Gold Cup picture as he carried top weight to victory with little fuss in the Black Death Vodka Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles, winning, eased down, by a length.

Maguire's big day

1.55: Sanmartino 1st 2-5 fav

2.25: Viking Flagship 1st 8-13 fav

3.00: Land Afar 1st 4-1

3.35: L'Opera 1st 7-2

4.10: Call It A Day 4th 9-4 fav

4.40: Pharanear 1st 6-1

5.10: Arctic Camper 2nd 10-11 fav